Advice for DM - Combatting Greater Invisibility



Players in my game, obviously shouldn't be reading this.

We're wrapping up a campaign and I'm trying to get some awesome out of the last couple of sessions. Got some cool stuff planned, but the party has a killer tactic I don't really know how to step to.

They are level 8, we are playing a drastically altered version of Kingmaker (no spoilers, but the crucial detail is that 90% of the time they get to set their own pace, and the only way I can counteract that is with wasted hours of random encounters).
There is a paladin, a wizard, a bow-rogue, and a ranger.

My problem is this:
round one the wizardr casts greater invisibility on the rogue.
Round 2+ everything dies and the others are unable to contribute to anything except forming a shield wall and waiting.

This displeases me.

I seriously thought we were doing something wrong, and that maybe the sneak attack should be only once per round, not every iterative attack, but google and this forum have confirmed that thems the rules.

The rogue easily lands 60+ damage a turn, the ranger is landing something like 12. This is every round. Unless it is an evil character, the paladin is landing 12, to maaaybe 20 damage.

I do not know if the rogue and paladin characters are unoptimised, or if the rogue is severely optimised. One thing I do know is that I have no idea how to handle the use of greater invisibility.

I've tried the old "use the tactic on them, see how they fight it, then learn from that" trick, pitting them against will o wisps. The problem in that was "round one, wizard turns rogue invisible. Round two, glitter dust. Then blood"

So, short of ensuring any significant encounter has an enemy wizard, who wins initiative (otherwise, sneak attack and dead), I have no idea how the tactic could be fought.

So now I feel like every encounter needs to be APL+2 to be worthwhile, or 90% of encounters should just be narrated. (You came across 4 cyclops in your travel up the mountain. One was a mighty champion. But none were wizards. You soon bested them)

I play a whole bunch of systems, so I don't know pathfinder in as much depth as I'd like.

The main adversaries for now are... People with squid faces...
What sort of tricks can they, and large brutes, use to mitigate invisibility magic at this level?

Obviously I'm more after "how do monsters and NPCs combat this when they discover it happening" than "I want to neutralise this tactic" else I'd be giving everyone True Seeing items. But what do creatures do when they discover they are being hammered by invisible arrows?

At that level, the occasional 1 use item with See Invis shouldn't be uncommon, esp in groups of intelligent foes

Creatues with Scent (guard dogs, for exp) have limited ability to get around it

Bosses might have access to SM VI, which has the Erinys(sp) on it's list, with perma-true seeing

See Invis should be on the spell list of at least 1 in every 2-4 casters the group encounters [Edit: and Glitterdust, while maybe not as common amoung NPCs, isn't really 'rare' either]

Retreating into a tight hallway (congoline of deathing the players, though that risks AoE spells) is an option

The list goes on, and I'm sure more posters will chime in, but in a high magic world invis of it's various forms is a 'common" power, most groups/creatures past the very early levels will have at least 1 thing/member/tactic on hand to address it, that's not metagaming the players tactics, to NOT have their foes have counter invis would be metagaming at that level
[Keep in mind, Vanish is L1 and Invis is L2, so any foe or creaure higher than CR3 or 4 manages to survive in a world it's that common... work em accordingly]

See Invis, Tremorsense (pet giant spiders), Invisibility Purge.

Aberrations, Incorporeals, Oozes, and Swarms tend to have some way of avoiding precision damage.


Maybe you should ask yourself first: What kind of monsters are at your disposal?

Invisibility, regular at least, can be countered by scent (somewhat), a simple powder, creatures with blindsense and blindsight, see invisibility spell and true sight. Creatures can even try to actively search and grapple individual opponent and if there is many creatures, they might stand a decent chance at it.

At higher levels extraplanar creatures can shut down this tactic completely with See Invisibility and True Sight.

A regular bandit without spellcaster might stand no chance against this tactic.

A regular demon might receive a scratch only from it.


Uncanny dodge class feature is your friend on humanoids also. Barbarians and rogues get it. At their level, every barbarian and rogue will have it.

If at 8th~ level a ranger is doing 12 damage, that's not a lot. That's actually like, first level character damage. What are their stats/statistics? A ranger should be doing like three attacks with manyshot for 2d8/1d8/1d8 and then damage from deadly aim, so at least +6 per shot with +12 for the first. If they're a dual-wielder, short swords/kukris for 1d6/1d4 and then +6 again for each attack etc.

In short it sounds like the other characters are just... weak.

The problem no doubt is the rogue sneak attack damage.

1) Check the range. 30' is sneak attack range, 35' isn't without some bonus.

2) Check for concealment, and remember that dim light counts for partial concealment. Probably your bow-rogue has sniper's eye, but check to be sure for without it then sneak attack is out in partial concealment. Even with sniper's eye 100% concealment prevents sneak attacks.

3) some critters are immune to sneak attacks.

4) the fortification armor enchantment. if it is known that players have a rogue doing all kinds of sneak attacks then intelligent opponents will add this to their armor.

5) invisibility. turn the tables, invisible creatures are immune to sneak attack damage.

6) invisibility purge, extends in a radius of 5' per level. see note 1.

oh darkness/greater darkness are good ways to get concealment.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber

One thing first, it seems like your paladin and ranger are underpowered.
The rogue doesn't seem overpowered except when paired with the rest of the party, especially the wizard.

For the way they countered invis, how did they find the invisible creatures to glitterdust them in the first place?

If magic is available, Summon monster 3 for dire bats, which have blindsense. Then glitterdust, faerie fire, or summon swarm on the location where the invisible person is being attacked. Wind wall is a pretty decent spell to stop archery, though not infallible. Most casters I've seen are prepared for invisible opponents.

Cloudkill and Fireball don't care if you're invisible, and most casters they're up against should have greater invis available as well.

For non caster counters, it's much harder. Maybe the boss has a potion of invisibility himself. Rogues can't sneak attack you when you're invisible.

Take cover. You can't be shot at when you are totally covered behind a wall or something.

Oil of darkness on a rock will get it dim enough for a concealment miss chance.

Smoke sticks.

A few people already mentioned guard dogs.

Malag mentioned improved uncanny dodge. It is the ultimate anti sneak attack ability. It doesn't care if you're invisible, flanking, or in the surprise round. Even all at once is fine.

Throw more combats a day at them so they run out of greater invisibilities.

Greater invis also runs out very fast, a number of rounds equal to wizards CL. With careful use of cover, movement, smokescreens, etc. you can run it out.

One other thing, you mention that you are playing a campaign where the PC's get to set their own pace. I question this; surely, by the time they have hit level 8, some of the PC's targets have heard of them by now and should be proactive? If not, I think you should revisit this aspect of the campaign somehow. Even in a sandbox game, there should be something that prevents the PC's from doing as they please. Maybe a goal with a time limit?

You said it's modified kingmaker, so I assume there's a kingdom they're working in, with, or ruling. There should be some threat to the kingdom that they have a limited time to counter.

First, you should probably audit the Rogue's character sheet, because 60 damage per round, even with sneak attack, is very high.

some math:
Composite Longbow +2 = 1d8+2
Strength Bonus = +4
Sneak Attack = 4d6
total = 1d8+4d6+6 = 24.5 damage on a hit.
With a rogue's attack bonus, he shouldn't hit all the time, especially with that second attack.

Also, don't forget cover and concealment! You can't sneak attack a target with concealment, and cover gives +4 AC. If you have to move in order to shoot around an obstacle, you only get one attack. Monsters don't necessarily need magic as a counter tactic, all they have to do is fight in woods to avoid the invisible archer.

What kind of 8th level paladin only does 12 damage???

Have they heard about power attack?

Also, I am impressed this rogue is moving and full attacking a lot, AND that all of his attacks are hitting! I know invis gives a +2 bonus and opponents are flat footed, but for many monsters and bad guys that isn't a big deal since they are heavily armoured

It has been pretty well covered above. The party (or at least the Rogue+Wizard) have found an effective tactic. That really shouldn't be an issue for you, much worse when the party doesn't work together and develop sound tactics really. Same time I can understand the frustration you might feel in not developing some solid counter measures for the baddies

Some of the key points mentioned above:
1) Duration is only 1 round/level
2) An 8th level wizard can only cast Greater Invisibility so many times a day. Do more things to use that limit up. Don't allow the party so much freedom to set their own schedule. Intelligent foes, in particular, are just not that cooperative.
3) Concealment including naturally provided concealment (fog, undergrowth, darkness) of any amount or sort prevents sneak attacks.
4) Long long list of spells and abilities which counter in one manner or another Invisibility effects and/or sneak attack.

As for the Rogue's damage vs the Ranger and Paladin. Sounds most likely that 1) Rgr and Pal aren't doing the damage I would expect. 2)The Rog could be if he generates 3 attacks per round (BAB +6 or better and Rapid Shot) and hits all 3 consistently. Key word there is consistently. Even denied dex bonus and with a +2 to hit he shouldn't hit that consistently or if he does it lends even more weight to the idea the Ranger and Pally aren't doing the damage they could and you probably need to make him work harder to hit his foes (up the AC's).

CWheezy wrote:

What kind of 8th level paladin only does 12 damage???

Have they heard about power attack?

Also, I am impressed this rogue is moving and full attacking a lot, AND that all of his attacks are hitting! I know invis gives a +2 bonus and opponents are flat footed, but for many monsters and bad guys that isn't a big deal since they are heavily armoured

The Rogue is an Archer from the sound of it. He's full attacking from the get go as he doesn't usually need to move which ...

... means making him move more than a 5-foot step to fire is yet another way to cut into the damage he can deal in 1 round. 1 attack with sneak is going to be considerably less damage than 3 such.

Kayerloth wrote:
)The Rog could be if he generates 3 attacks per round (BAB +6 or better and Rapid Shot) and hits all 3 consistently.

Oops, my math neglected Rapid Shot.

Wand/scroll of dispel magic and the UMD skill can help non caster remove it. Also As DM I tend to force my PCs to take 10-15 fights in one day or they hit a boss fight witch is APL +6 (no individual higher the APL +3) where such nova tactics are needed instead of just overkill. In my game my Cav does 60 or so on charge at 9th level and over 120 with challenge and buffs. The rest do more then half of that and either do it over and area or add some other fun feature to it. The only exception is the cleric who is pretty much buffer/healer. He is so good at that that if a PC is not dead they will be fully healed on the clerics turn (only 1 PC though).

I know they are OP but not by huge margins.

Does the rouge get a free true strike on each attack or something? he is not martial, so at lvl 2 that bab 6 he's got a dex of lets say 20, +11 rapid shot -2, longbow +3, +12, lets say human so 5 feats so lets say he sprung for specialization, +13, invisibility +15. That's a lot right? Well not really.

A battle cleric (who on his first turn casts invisibility purge after he sees the rouge dissapear) wearing full plate +1, and a tower sheild +1 (two feats) dex +1 ring +1 amulet +1) improved channel, quiken channel selective chanel (5 feats total) flat foot AC of 28. If he is lvl 9 he gets one more feat and he takes extra channel. Now remember channel is not that strong, but with 16 cha he gets 8 uses of it.

Once he gets within range and has cast invisibility purge he starts spamming it. No invisibility the rouge hits for +13 vs 28 AC good luck. the rouge quickly is in a lot of trouble, especially since he is having a hard time hitting the sob. Even without invisibility purge if the rouge is in sneak attack range he can get channeled. Twice per round. Thats 35 damage per round, more if the cleric has an item. The rouge doesnt have a good save as he's an archer and can't afford the resourses to boost his will, so he is probably taking full damage. His HP isn't high for the same reasons. Not only all that but there should be minions in this encounter (The reason for selective channel) They protect the cleric from the melee oriented characters.

If you want to be reaelly nasty have the cleric ready to channel as a standard till the wizard casts forcing a nasty concentration check while still hitting everyone else. Not a high APL, still a very high difficulty for the party as the Paladin will go through his channel faster than the cleric if he channels, and will be less effective, or he eschews healing and everyone looses hp fast.

Once the cleric runs out of channel he is still a full caster and can be prepared to spam flame strike if you want, or wall of stone someone. Hell if he wins initiative wall of stone the wizard with the bad reflex save from the beggining.

The mooks can be simple warriors if you want to keep the CR low and the tactic will still be effective.

Not to mention the cleric can prepare a couple dispel magics.

And flame strikes, for when he runs out of channels (Which he will)

Silver Crusade

At 8th level enemy casters who use 2nd level spells should actually be pretty common. Just using 2nd level spells you get See Invisibility and Glitterdust which can be very effective in combination. If you get lucky you might even blind the rogue.

Dogs are only 1/3 CR and they get scent. Adding a few dogs to any guard post makes sneaking up that much more challenging. Adding higher level creatures with scent even more so.

Those are all the tools you really need. If you mix in all the other options like Dispel Magic and Invisibility purge then you can effectively neutralize the rogue while rarely using the same tactic twice. Since you don't want to neutralize him completely then sparing inclusion of these tactics will certainly let him know that it is not the WIN button.

Keep in mind though that the wizard is blowing one of his highest level spells to do this so I would only use these tactics to keep the boss fights interesting.

Also, have organized opponents react if reports get out that they are using invisibility. Suddenly, guard dogs are everywhere. Every wizard is using See Invisibility and so on.

When my players fight groups I like to have the last few guys run for it when the battle is obviously lost. Then later when they ask how the enemy knows their tactics I can point to all the people who escaped and probably reported back.

This is all great, I am reading it and I appreciate it.

There's a lot to absorb and read and reexamine, so I'm not informed enough to reply with much else.

Other members have offered some excellent suggestions. The only other thing I can think of is the Blind-Fight feat and using the Perception skill to find 'em. It's occasionally easier than some people think to notice invisible creatures with Perception. From the Invisibility Special Ability section:

"A creature can generally notice the presence of an active invisible creature within 30 feet with a DC 20 Perception check. The observer gains a hunch that “something's there” but can't see it or target it accurately with an attack. It's practically impossible (+20 DC) to pinpoint an invisible creature's location with a Perception check. Even once a character has pinpointed the square that contains an invisible creature, the creature still benefits from total concealment (50% miss chance). There are a number of modifiers that can be applied to this DC if the invisible creature is moving or engaged in a noisy activity.

Invisible creature is... Perception DC Modifier
In combat or speaking –20
Moving at half speed –5
Moving at full speed –10
Running or charging –20
Not moving +20
Using Stealth Stealth check +20
Some distance away +1 per 10 feet
Behind an obstacle (door) +5
Behind an obstacle (stone wall) +15"

So, if the Rogue is just standing in the middle of the road flinging arrows at people, the DC to notice her is 20 +1 per 10 feet away.

Pinpointing her location is DC 40 +1 per 10 ft. away (20 base, -20 for being in combat, +20 for pinpointing +20 for not moving). If she moves at all she loses the +20 DC modifier making it only DC 20.

An average Perception check at level 8 is:
8 ranks +3 class skill +1 Wisdom = +12

As soon as she moves she's toast; especially with multiple opponents trying to find her.

If she doesn't move, then people know where she is due to this clause:

"If an invisible creature strikes a character, the character struck knows the location of the creature that struck him (until, of course, the invisible creature moves). The only exception is if the invisible creature has a reach greater than 5 feet. In this case, the struck character knows the general location of the creature but has not pinpointed the exact location."

Bows do not have "reach" so they are not subject to the caveat.

Either way...just my 2 cp

Some of the advice above isn't useful for this particular campaign. Much of Kingmaker is sandboxy, which means the PCs set the pace (as the OP said).

Many of the encounters are simply random encounters, and many of the encounters are underpowered or just three trolls or something.

The good news is the DM is allowed to change things. If you aren't challenging the PCs, change things so they are.

The first thing I'd suggest is making every encounter harder. They're only doing one encounter a day, so make any encounter you want to be challenging at APL +4. (Go up if the PCs can handle it.) I'd recommend adding extra creatures rather than modifying what's there, if only to save on workload. So what do you add?

Find any excuse to add some sort of spellcaster to an encounter. Perhaps a template, custom if need be, perhaps a few levels or oracle or sorcerer or whatever suits the creature type. (4 levels gives See Invisible, and that might only increase a creature's CR by 2.) Or add caster monsters to a group. (Shambling mounds could be accompanied by a nymph or two.) Feel free to tweak their spell/spell-like ability selections.

I used to play an "invincible" wizard back in 3.x, using Mirror Image, a lot. Like Greater Invisibility, MI is an illusion, and illusions are fragile. I don't mean you can disbelieve them (you can't disbelieve either spell) but creatures with tremorsense and Scent see through them. Add such creatures to encounters somehow.

On a related note, often you just want to combine encounters in parts of the module. For instance, if you have one encounter with a barbarian and some undead, and another encounter with two clerics, maybe you want to take the coolest NPCs/monsters from each and combine into one. (Barbarians are much nastier when they're healer, or the cleric casts Spell Resistance on them, or dispels conditions put on them.)

The second thing is encounter prep. For obvious reasons PCs are more powerful when they see an encounter coming. Get strict about scouting rules. If the rogue is scouting, he's away from the wizard, and Greater Invisibility obviously doesn't last long enough for scouting purposes.

Make sure the bad guys know about the PCs somehow some of the time. Again spellcasters are great at this. Set Alarm or Snare spell traps around their camp. Anyone scouting on them (probably not searching for traps, at least the first time) has a good chance of setting those traps off. Druids could use Charm Animal (or other such spells) to befriend small wilderness creatures to cry out or otherwise warn them when people they don't recognize approach... and these woodland critters have scent. (Yes, that means the chipmunk might actually be a hostile threat.) Noncasters can sprinkle stuff on the ground, like marbles or caltrops, to help target invisible creatures.

Too often in my campaign, the DM allowed us to buff before attacking, so we usually stomped on the opposition. He slowly stopped giving us so much free reign.

I seriously doubt the rogue is overpowered. Even back in 3.5, I used to kill them off regularly, without deliberately trying. It's just that someone with a weak Fortitude and Will save is so vulnerable, especially if they go scouting 50 feet ahead of the party.

Drop a smokestick. A creature with concealment, no matter how little the concealment, CANNOT be sneak-attacked without a certain feat, which I'm betting the rogue will lack.

glitter ust, bag of flower, blindsense, tremorsense, scent ability, terrain where footprints are obvious (water, swimming, snow), concealment, no precision damage foes, true seeing foes (at higher levels), 2X number of enemies,dispel magic, set them on fire (will see smoke), detect thoughts, silence on wizard, ambush them before prep spells, true strike, hypnotic pattern,

hope something in there helps

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